Warwickshire Pride Online

My local pride like many others around the world are holding a digital event this year. Warwickshire Pride ONLINE which will be streaming Sunday 22nd August on facebook, twitter and youtube. I attended Warwickshire Pride last year as a stall holder for Memeow Gifts. The day was great fun, with much entertainment throughout the day and I look forward to watching their digital version this year.

A poster I designed for the event 🙂

The line up hasn’t been released yet but they are announcing acts throughout the coming week. Their tweet below hints at some of the fun things to come.

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Memeow Gifts now on thortful!

Just a short post to let you know that some of my designs are now on available on the popular greetings card website thortful. thortful is one of the most popular websites for greetings cards, so I’m very pleased to be part of their catalog!

An exclusive design I created for thortful

Click here to check out my thortful profile

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Netflix Documentary ‘Disclosure’ is essential viewing

I recently watched Netflix documentary Disclosure which details the history of Trans representation in TV and Film and the impact on society. The film features many trans stars including Laverne Cox, Bianca Leigh Jen Richards, Lilly Wachowski, Brian Michael Smith, Sandra Caldwell, Chaz Bono and many more.

This documentary is essential viewing especially in times of the Black Lives Matter movement and the planned rolling back of Trans rights by the UK government and celebrities such as JK Rowling making their transphobia known. I know JK is only one person but she has a a lot of power, Harry Potter is a behemoth of a franchise. The comments she has made completely baffle me after she wrote a whole series based around the virtues of accepting others, especially those that differ to you. That being said I don’t wish her any hate or ill will,  but it is a great shame and hope she changes her thinking on trans issues, since many LGBTQ people will have found solace in her stories.

… Anyway back to Disclosure!

“I think for a very long time the ways in which trans people have been represented on screen have suggested that we are not real, have suggested that we are mentally ill, that we don’t exist. And yet, here I am. Yet here we are, and we’ve always been here.” – Laverne Cox says  just before the titles roll perfectly setting up the rest of the documentary.

The documentary details the first trans portrayals in film, transphobic film tropes and various other topics.  I found the part about Cis actors playing trans characters very interesting. Where Jared Leto and Eddie Redmayne may do a decent job of playing trans women it reduces the roles to being costume like e.g. Jared Leto playing a Trans woman in Dallas Byers Club and later receiving the Oscar looking unrecognisable to the character he portrayed. But when trans women are cast in a trans role like Laverne Cox playing Sophia in Orange is The New Black this creates positive representation. Cox is not just representing a transwoman on the show she is also representing herself as a transwoman in real life which is great for trans youth to see.

Jen Richards relays coming out to a good friend as trans. The friend then asking if being trans is like Buffalo Bill. Buffalo Bill as in the serial killer from Silence of the Lambs who makes a dress out of women he has murdered … Richard’s reassures us that her friend is more understanding now and didn’t mean offence by her comment. But it’s scary that trans representation was/is so scarce that this was someones first frame of reference.

I also found Sandra Caldwell’s story very interesting, Caldwell had a long career starring in films like The Cheetah Girls and Serendipity before coming out more recently as a transwoman. Chaz Bono also shares his experience of being the first trans contestant on Dancing With The Stars.

I highly recommend to anyone who hasn’t watched Disclosure to check it out! 

 

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Is Heartwarming Gay Pixar Short ‘Out’ a sign of more LGBTQ representation to come from Disney?

For years LGBTQ Disney/Pixar fans have been calling out for more representation in the animated universe. We have seen many gay coded characters and minor characters have been revealed to be gay see ‘Zootopia’ and recent Pixar film ‘Onward’. I have written before about Disney’s history of Coded Gay characters and LGBTQ representation which you can read here.

The Short film ‘Out’ landed on Disney + at end of May, as part of Pixar’s Smart Short series. This is the most visible LGBTQ representation from Pixar and Disney to date, with the short centring around main character Greg who is struggling to come out as gay to his parents. I loved this short, it has the same charm as many of the other great Pixar shorts and also lovely to finally see concrete LGBTQ representation from Pixar/Disney. Hopefully this is a good sign of what’s to come from their future feature films.

It is a great short and I highly recommend checking it out.

Trailer for ‘Out’

P.S. had to do a bonus drawing of Gigi The Cat and the Dog

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Happy Purr-ide!

Hello and Happy Pride Month! I first of all wanted to address that this is very difficult time in the world right now. I posted the below link earlier in the month on my socials but wanted to include it here too. A good resource on how to help with the Black Lives Matter movement.

https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/

Memeow stands for love, kindness and acceptance and is against all forms of hate.

I’ve recently added some more cards to my etsy shop including cats in the colours of LGBTQ flags. This is due to the popularity of my Trans Cat card in the colours of the trans flag. The text on all of these cards says “You’re Purrfect” and the range now includes cats based on the Lesbian, Gay,Bi and Trans flags.

Recent additions also include a Trans Unicorn card, two Gaymer cards and a prideful Dachshund card! (I have a slight dachshund obsession)

You can check out the full range here!

I hope to get a few more blog posts out this month, See you on the next one! – Josh

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A Star is Reborn again on Chromatica and How I Became a Fan of the Enigmatic Lady Gaga

In 2008 Gaga emerged into the world of pop music and nothing was the same again! Now 12 years later she is about to release her latest album Chromatica, to celebrate, I thought I’d write about how I became a fan and giving a short recap of her career so far.

‘Just Dance’ was Gaga’s first big hit and also the first single from her debut album ‘The Fame’ (fun fact it’s “RedOne” the tracks producer that she shouts at the start of the song not “Red Wine”) ‘The Fame’ is about well fame. the good the bad and ugliness of it. I was absolutely obsessed with ‘Poker Face’ the follow up single, which has one of the catchiest pop choruses, combined with a genius Boney M sampled “Ma Ma Ma” hook!

It was however the VMA Performance of Paparazzi which cemented my status from casual fan to hardcore fan! I’d never seen anything like it – it was shocking, entertaining and Gaga’s Voice was INCREDIBLE. I also was very touched that she used her platform to thank the gay community dedicating her VMA win to “God and the Gays”, which is a good precursor to the great LGBTQ activism she would later be involved in.

‘The Fame Monster’ technically Gaga’s second LP was released a year after her debut album, I say technically as the album was in most places tacked on to ‘The Fame’ as a deluxe edition. Gaga requested the album was also released separately as she believed the 8 track record stood as a separate body of work. These 8 songs each represent a different metaphorical ‘Monster’ in Gaga’s life eg fear of love and fear of death. This album contains my favourite Gaga track of all time, ‘Bad Romance’ which is in my mind pop perfection. The song combines catchy melodies, dark lyrics, a killer bridge and also manages to name check 3 Alfred Hitchcock films! (Iconic)

The Gaga/Motorcycle hybrid combined with super 80s style text album cover will probably go down as one of the most controversial album covers of the 2010s! The cover taken from Gaga’s 3rd album ‘Born This Way’ really split the fanbase, I personally do like the cover it’s strange, and incorporates the 80s feel of the album. Title track ‘Born This Way’ is an empowering anthem of self love and includes a shout out to the LGBTQ community. On release ‘Born This Way’ was criticised by certain people as pandering to the LGBTQ community, which I completely disagree with. Even just back in 2011 when the album was released LGBTQ rights were not where they are now, gay marriage wasn’t legalised in the UK until 2014 after all.

Some may question why hearing positive LGBTQ lyrics in a pop song is that important, but just think about how many places pop music is played, shops, restaurants, the radio ; for anyone struggling with their sexuality or gender identity to be told you are perfect as you are is very comforting message.

Themes of self love and empowerment are weaved throughout the rest of the ‘Born This Way’ album, on ‘Hair’ Gaga sings “I just wanna be myself,And I want you to love me for who I am”, Scheiße’ is a female empowerment anthem about wishing to be confident in yourself and ‘Marry The Night’ is about taking on your own demons. Other highlights include the controversial super catchy ‘Judas’, Lesbian love song ‘Americano’ and my favourite of the album ‘The Edge of Glory” inspired by her grandparents love.

Born This Way’ is personally my favourite album of Gaga’s as I’m sucker for 80s style music, the concept of reinvention, rebelling against a society that sometimes makes you feel you don’t fit in and it’s empowering message of self love.

“I don’t remember ARTPOP” Gaga tweeted last year referencing her 4th album, which wasn’t Gaga’s smoothest album cycle to say the least! The album came only 6 months after Gaga broke her hip and had to prematurely end her Born This Way Ball Tour. After the first single ‘Applause’, Gaga and her team had planned to release ‘Venus’ as the next single off of ARTPOP, but when Promo single ‘Do What U Want’ started gaining traction they decided to release the latter as the second single. The video that was shot for ‘DWUW’ was never released as it was too controversial and in hindsight was the best thing considering the featured artist on the track (the song has now been taken off streaming platforms and removed from any new CDs/vinyls)

Anyway…Even though there were issues with the rollout of the ARTPOP cycle I do still like album and don’t think it deserved the harsh reception it got from critics. I also appreciated how Gaga released a final music video mainly for fans – “G.U.Y (An ARTPOP Film)”, which featured songs ‘ARTPOP’, ‘Venus’ and ‘G.U.Y.’

Gaga went for a singer-songwriter approach for her next solo studio album Joanne which was released after Gaga’s jazz collaboration (Cheek to Cheek) with Tony Bennet. The album’s title track ‘Joanne’ comes from the name of Gaga’s late aunt and the song deals with her father’s loss of losing his sister begging ‘Joanne’ to stay with the lyric “Girl where do you think you’re going?”. Another popular song off the record ‘Million Reasons’ is a country inspired ballad about a relationship that is near breaking point but the song’s character will stay if give one good reason over a million not to. Some fans were a bit disappointed due to Gaga’s departure from electro-pop on this record, but I’m glad it exists as I enjoy vulnerability and stripped backness of this record.

Now it’s almost time to go to Chromatica! ‘Chromatica’ Gaga’s latest album comes off the success of her role in Bradley Cooper’s ‘A Star Is Born’ and promises a return to the electro pop sound of her early career. The highly danceable first single ‘Stupid Love’ highlights is a precursor to the fun, feel good record that Gaga is serving up this time. ‘Rain On Me’ the second single featuring Ariana Grande (another fave of mine) was released two days ago as of writing and is getting a great response, seems like the perfect uplifting song for these current times.

Other collaborations to look forward to on ‘Chromatica’ include ‘Sour Candy’ featuring Korean group Blackpink and pop legend Elton John on ‘Sine From Above’, Sine referencing a sine wave the mathematical symbol for sound. A sine wave is also found on the album cover for ‘Chromatica’ as Gaga found that making the music healed her, Gaga said in recent interview with Zane Lowe for Apple Music regarding the album “I’m making a dance record again. And this dance floor, it’s mine and I earned it. And all that stuff that I went through, I don’t have to feel pain about it anymore. It can just be a part of me, and I can keep going.”

Illustration of Rain On Me Video

I’m sure the album will be brilliant (it is a Gaga record after all) hopefully this album will also provide some healing for others just as ‘Born This Way’ helped me.

I leave you with the tag line of the album, a simple but lovely message.

“In Chromatica no one thing is greater than another” – Lady Gaga

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Happy IDAHOBIT 2020!

Happy International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia or IDAHOBIT for short! IDAHOBIT was started by Louis-Georges Tin in 2004. The days name has changed in recent years to include more LGBTQ groups, starting off as IDAHO but now including Bi and Transgender members of the community in the days name.

The date of May 17th was chosen as this is the date The World Health Organisation (who I think we’ve all heard of now!) decided to remove Homosexuality from their international classification of diseases in 1990.

Happy IDAHOBIT to you all and remember to stay safe! 🙂

P.S.

Working on some new card designs this weekend which I can’t wait to release soon. Also working on another post for later this month so stay tuned!

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It sounds like OA – Six Fanarts and Free Quarantine Cards

In my blog post before last, I posted about my contribution to the #SixFanarts challenge and mentioned that I would create an edition based on The OA. I’ve now finished The OA edition which you can view below.

This as, with the first #SixFanarts challenge was a lot of fun, giving me an opportunity to experiment with my style a bit. Also good practice as I usually draw animal characters so drawing 6 humans was slightly out of my comfort zone!

I also this week decided I’m going to work on a set of Quarantine inspired designs which I will be posting for free on this blog once I have finished. These cards will focus on LGBTQ couples and positive messages, while we are in this weird time in the world.

Below is the first of the quarantine designs – which is based on my previous card design A Whole Otter Love!

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Free Rainbow Colouring Pages

Rainbows are popping up in windows up and down the country here in the UK so I thought I’d offer some free printable rainbow colouring pages. Let me know if you do use them and post pics on social media tagging @memeowgifts so I can repost them!

Window users right-click on the images to save them, for Mac Users ctrl-click.

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#SixFanarts Challenge

Hello! I hope you are well and staying safe. I recently took part in the latest art internet trend the #SixFanarts challenge created by twitter user @mcapriglioneart – who provided a template for the challenge consistomg of six boxes to fill with fanart of characters suggested by your followers.

Below is the finished result!

BBA (The Oa), Rosalina (Super Mario Galaxy), Anju (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time), Celestia Ludenberg (Danganronpa), Eggman (Sonic The Hedgehog) and Rick from Rick and Morty. A strange but varied mixture of characters! I did have a lot of requests for other characters from The OA so I’m planning on doing an OA edition too!

I had a lot of fun with this challenge as it gave a me a chance to try out a slightly different style, I experimented with a more consistent black outline, which I think works well.

Below is the template for the challenge if you want to take part.

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